Letters To The Editor


May 31, 2004

In war zones, truth may exact very heavy toll

I worked as an adviser in the headquarters of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan, for six months and returned home Feb. 25. And I think The Sun's article "The hunt for bin Laden, the search for peace" (May 23) was excellent.

The inability of the 14-year-old Afghan boy, Manan, to answer truthfully concerning the movement of weapons in his village is in some respects the same as the inability of a 14-year-old Baltimore child to respond to questions concerning local illegal activities. Both the Afghan and the Baltimore child may be killed if they give the wrong answer.

An Afghan official made this clear to my delegation during our first week in Kabul, saying, "All Afghans are liars. I should know, I'm an Afghan."

And, as to the old weapons found in villages, it may be helpful to know that in many areas, collecting such armaments is viewed as part of the local economy.

The Russians left millions of shells, rockets, mines, boxes of explosives and weapons when they were driven out of Afghanistan. In the 10 years of civil war following the expulsion of the Russians, much of the armament was gathered and hidden in caches by the various local fighters.

Today, Afghan villagers continue to collect such armament when they find it strewn across their land and safeguard the caches as an economic necessity. The weaponry and explosives are sold to the terrorists or turned in to officials for a small reward when cash is needed.

The U.N.-sponsored disarmament program is taking only a fraction of the weapons in Afghanistan out of circulation.

Robert J. Dukelow


The writer is a counterterrorism analyst for the U.S. Army.

Immigration causes drive to develop

The Sun's article on the Baltimore County Planning Board's pro-development actions ("Panel rejects growth limits," May 24) did not place the matter in the context of two important points: Who benefits from further development? What is driving the growth?

Only the developers benefit. Who else would be pro-development?

No one else would support it, because development means degrading our quality of life through increased congestion, overcrowded schools, higher taxes, environmental problems and the destruction of beautiful rural areas.

Immigration is driving over-development. From 1990 to 2000, the number of foreign-born Maryland residents increased by 204,821, according to the U.S. Census.

Quite simply, this is why we are forced to grapple with decisions that will degrade our quality of life and the rural beauty of Baltimore County.

But the lower quality of life we experience in our region is not inevitable. We are masters of our own fate. We residents of Maryland must decide if continued immigration at high rates is good for those of us who are already here.

I personally am voting with my feet. My wife and I are moving to a place (which shall remain unnamed) that values quality of life instead of greed.

David Nauheim


City should support the mayor's efforts

Shouldn't Baltimore's delegates to Annapolis work hand in hand with the mayor to make our city a better place to live instead of criticizing Mayor Martin O'Malley at every turn ("O'Malley's ability to pick top officials is criticized," May 23)?

Del. Jill P. Carter should support the mayor's actions, which have made Baltimore safer while reducing the city's bloated payroll.

The mayor responded immediately to Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark's situation by requesting an independent investigation into the allegations made against him.

What possible good can accrue to our city from these frequent attacks by Mr. O'Malley's critics?

Doris Malin


Glad Sun covered historic gay couple

Congratulations to Marc and James Epstein-Reeves, who got married in Massachusetts, and kudos to The Sun for covering this historic moment in detail ("Md. gay couple marry in face of legal issues," May 23).

Just months ago, The Sun had relegated gay unions to the nether regions of the paper, among used cars and coffee tables for sale. What a welcome about-face to see a story about two gay men committing their lives to one another on the front page of The Sun.

We should always remember that gay people are just that - people - and that there is no difference between the love and emotion a gay couple shares for one another and that of a heterosexual couple.

Russell Carbaugh


Meeting the needs of cycling commuters

I read with great interest Rob Kasper's column about riding his bike to work ("Bicycle offers viable option for cautious commuter," May 22). There are many people like Mr. Kasper who could ride their bike or walk to work and would find it enjoyable.

I rode my bike for the first time down busy York Road and other streets from Anneslie to Little Italy on Bike to Work Day (May 7) and again the following Friday. It took me about 30 minutes to get to work and 45 minutes to get home, only slightly longer than my car commute time.

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